Velociraptor (Wild Safari by Safari Ltd.)

For a long time now, too long in fact, various collectable dinosaur companies have tried and failed to make a properly feathered and accurate representation of one of the world’s most popular dinosaurs; Velociraptor and its kin the stem-birds we call dromaeosaurs or “raptors.” When I first started collecting dinosaur toys the best representations included those by Bullyland and CollectA and while we commend their efforts to popularize feathered dinosaurs they ultimately failed to make convincing looking animals. Even more recently companies like Favorite and Papo have tried and failed to make much more than a lizard in a chicken costume. As such my shelf is sadly devoid of feathered dromaeosaurs. I would rather have good outdated naked models than halfhearted attempts at accurate animals.

I think where companies and by extension the artists they hire fail is in one simple rule that seems like common sense in hindsight: if it had feathers, it looked like a bird. Instead of using a reptile as your starting point it makes much more sense to use a bird. In the wake of another dinosaur renaissance urged on by a new generation of artists like John Conway, Emily Willoughby, Matthew Martyniuk, and Mark Witton we’re finally seeing the most realistic looking dinosaurs ever put to paper and they’re not the savage reptiles of antiquity but rather the sort of animals your grandmother might feed outside her window.

Toy companies and model makers are starting to catch up with art and science with this year’s releases by Safari being hailed as the new standard in dinosaur depictions. Multiple dinosaurs in the line are feathered in a realistic way we’ve never seen: a truly epic and unprecedented Tyrannosaurus, feather coated and lithe Coelopyhsis, and now, finally, a properly avian looking Velociraptor.

The new Safari Velociraptor measures 8.39″ long, stands 2.73″ tall, and was sculpted by Doug Watson who continues to hone his trade each passing year. This Velociraptor is literally the first of its kind. The feather placement is absolutely spot-on, complete with primary feathers anchored to the middle digit and a luxurious fan of feathers along the tail. Most of all, and I can’t stress this enough, it looks like a bird. And there is no doubt that Velociraptor and its kin would have looked like birds. Unlike past attempts by other companies the feathery covering does much to obscure the shape of the actual animal within them. The neck is especially thick and fluffy. We’re used to Velociraptor with a long S-curved neck. This is accurate, modern birds have the same thing. It’s kind of a theropod hallmark. With most modern birds you just can’t see it under all the fluff and it makes sense that some feathered dinosaurs would have been similarly obscured by their plumage. Other Velociraptor trademarks are here too. The narrow curved snout, long stiff tail, hyperextended toe, and neutral 3 fingered hands.

If dromaeosaurs could be compared to any modern animals it would no doubt be the animals traditionally called raptors (birds of prey) in a pre-“Jurassic Park” world. This raptor indeed looks raptor-like (please excuse the word play) and the colors it’s reproduced in further enforces that. Doug Watson himself said the colors were originally inspired by the large and regal ferruginous hawk of western North America. The plumage is mostly a burnt orange color with some black highlights on the body. The tail and primary feathers are tipped in brown with beautiful white speckling. The head stands out with a black crown and nape and some white striping trailing away from the eyes. The eyes themselves are orange with round black pupils. The snout is brown and studded with numerous tiny teeth that are meticulously painted with little runoff despite the tiny size. The scaly hands and feet are an olive color with brown scutes and light brown nails. The underside of the toy is painted white. Overall the color is both eye-catching and realistic without being too gaudy.

The model is posed with the tail lifted high but supported by the tips of the wing feathers. Obviously these sorts of compromises are necessary to make the toy stand but unlike previous tripod attempts at a Velociraptor this one is much less offensive.  If I did have any complaint about the posture it would be the open mouth but that’s something I complain about with every theropod toy.

All in all this is just a fantastic model and just the sort of Velociraptor I’ve been longing for. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come from Safari and other toy companies take note. I urge every collector to pick this gem up. Vote with your money and tell toy companies that THIS is the kind of model you want on your shelf.  I could continue to gush over this model for many more pages but I’ll spare you that, this review has already run on longer than most but this toy is truly the Velociraptor to which all other figures will be compared. As a final note I would like to thank Dan of Dan’s Dinosaurs for generously donating this model for review.

The Safari Ltd. Velociraptor is now available for purchase at Dan’s Dinosaurs.

18 Responses to Velociraptor (Wild Safari by Safari Ltd.)

  1. allosoddingaurus

    Just a fabulous figure. Wow. Great review too. Safari’s dinosaur line up this year is amazing.

  2. I am so looking forward to seeing this one, after skipping so many recent ‘raptor models. As for the open mouth issue, at least it means that the tiny, sculpted teeth are clearly visibile in all their glory! Depending on where you fall with dino lips (I have no opinion personally) you might not see them at all on this model!

  3. Great review for a great figure!

  4. Great review- I can’t wait to get one of these myself~!! :’D This is definitely the Velociraptor we’ve been waiting for!
    I love your pic of this feathered friend standing on the old WS naked raptor, haha. I actually still really love the detail on that model, despite it’s inaccuracy, but it’s a great visual, seeing the feathers prevail, haha!

  5. Hands down, simply the best popular Velociraptor figure currently available.

  6. Finally, a real Velociraptor! What a game-changer Safari’s 2017 line-up is. The first toy (as opposed to model): accurately feathered Velociraptor, feathered T rex with >accurate< proportions, Tylosaurus with correct palantine teeth & fluke, fully accurate Giganotosaurus in typical theropod pose, large (at least 1:60) Diplodocus with keratinous spines etc. All with zero shrinkwrapping and immaculate detail & paint apps.

  7. By crikey, that’s a good one! I might get one to stand by my (eventual) Beasts of the Mesozoic reward, and I think it could do that easily.

  8. Now THIS is a dinosaur! The feather detail is absolutely fantastic, I’ve tried sculpting them and it’s surprisingly hard, so I’m extra impressed at how nice this looks. I like the pose, as well, with just enough action to look lively but neutral enough it could be used in many different dioramas or play.

    Also, I got quite a laugh at the photo of feathersaurus putting its poor, naked counterpart out of its misery.

  9. Linhevenator tani

    Yesterday I received this figure along with the Coelophysis, Tyrannosaurus, and Microraptor. This is definitely one of the best lines to be released. All of the figures are beautifully sculpted.

  10. From my paleontological ignorance but from my humble point of view for me this figure is the best dromeosaurido done to date, and for more precise the best velociraptor that exists in the toy market.

    Regardless of what some members of the forum say (and will have their reasons), I am not a fan of the articulated jaws and that is why I applaud Doug Watson for not having made them (for now) in the toy market and for more precise in Safari . For me it shows this figure and others such as giganotosaurus, feathered tyrannosaurus rex, colelophysis and kronosaurus among other figures that can make the best toy figures without having to have articulated members and most important detachable bases as happens with the giganotosaurus of it factory.

    Safari by far is the best toy dinosaur company in the world today and I can not comment.

  11. Great review! Not that I needed it to convince me to buy this marvelous figure.
    On an entirely unrelated note, anyone want to buy my copy of last year’s Papo Velociraptor? 😀

  12. What a fine review! Great idea to photograph the raptor in one of your lizard habitats! I can’t wait to get this one!

    I own a number of those other toys you mentioned. I agree that they pale in comparison to this one, but I felt that I needed to help show those companies that feathered dinosaur toys sell. 🙂

    • Thanks. I really wanted at least one picture of it with my pair of button quail but they were too afraid of it to get close. The parakeets weren’t fond of it either. But the lizard habitat works well, especially with the desert vibe.

      • I didn’t know you kept button quails. Those coot floof balls.

        • They’re awesome, I just love them. And the eggs are tasty too but it takes awhile to accumulate enough to do anything with. I have a pair of them, I’ve only had them for a couple months now but they make great chicken substitutes if you can’t have chickens.

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